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Bosphorus 20th Anniversary Series Cymbals

by Michael Dawson

A throwback to the ’60s, with musicality and expressiveness at its core.


Bosphorus cymbals

Bosphorus, one of the leading cymbal manufacturers in Turkey, is commemorating two decades of operation with the new 20th Anniversary series, which comprises a limited range of thin, vintage-style pies. These cymbals are made from the same bronze formula as all other Bosphorus series, and they feature a dark-gray, antique-looking finish and a simple white twentieth-anniversary logo. We were sent a pair of 14″ hi-hats, 16″ and 18″ crashes, and 20″ and 22″ rides to review. (The series also includes 13″ hi-hats, a 17″ crash, and a 21″ ride.)

The Look and Feel of Yesteryear
Since its inception, Bosphorus has focused a lot of effort into recreating the classic warm-sounding and soft-feeling cymbals of the ’60s, which can be found in various series, such as the all-purpose Traditional, the softer Master, and the drier, unlathed Master Vintage. (More contemporary tones are also available in the bright and crisp-sounding Gold series and the raw, dark Turks.)

The 20th Anniversary series sits somewhere between the Master and Master Vintage lines. The cymbals are lathed on top and bottom like a traditional cymbal, but they’re treated with a special process that darkens the appearance to make them look like they’re decades old. They’re not raw and earthy like the Master Vintage, but the bronze isn’t clean or fresh looking either. Swipe away the white logos, and you’d swear these were some pristinely preserved old Ks.

The bells on the 20th Anniversary rides and crashes are fairly wide and flat, while the bells on the hi-hats are smaller and steeper. The 16″ and 18″ crashes are thin and flexible. The 20″ and 22″ rides are a little more rigid, with the 20″ being the firmer of the two. The hi-hats have a medium-thin top and a medium bottom. The crashes could be classified as paper-thin, the 20″ ride is medium-thin, and the 22″ is thin.

Sensitive Old-School Sounds
We tested the 20th Anniversary series cymbals in a jazz/funk style in the recording studio and on a few moderate-volume club gigs that included a wide range of genres, from Dixieland to progressive rock.

For recording drummers, these cymbals are a great option for situations where you need rich, smooth, and warm sounds that speak quickly and easily but don’t get overly loud. Even when I struck the crashes hard and laid heavily into the hi-hats, they never oversaturated the mix with excessive wash or harsh overtones. The crashes opened up immediately with a fully realized tone from super-soft strokes, and they stood strong against harder hits without choking or spraying too wildly.

The 22″ ride has a tendency to get washier than the 20″, especially when played at faster tempos and at higher volumes. The 22″ wasn’t ideal for the aforementioned club gigs, which demanded a lot of stylistic and dynamic versatility. But for lighter contexts, like acoustic jazz and more subtle recording applications, it provided a lusciously dark and warm tone that blended well with the kit. The bell sound is complex and integrated, so striking it activates a fair amount of wash. The 22″ ride also crashes very well, producing a huge, dramatic push when hit on the edge with the shoulder of the stick.

The 20″ ride has a slightly cleaner stick attack and more focused overtones, making it better suited for a wider range of styles and applications than the 22″. It’s medium-thin, so it won’t cut through loud or dense mixes, but it records beautifully, has very even and balanced sustain, and has enough control to work as a main ride for lower-volume jazz, singer/songwriter, and soft-rock gigs.

The 14″ hi-hats fall in line with the rest of the 20th Anniversary series, providing a warm, balanced sound with crisp but complex articulation and controlled volume. They would be an excellent choice for most recording situations because of how well they respond to subtle shifts in dynamics and touch and because they don’t throw out so much sound that they bleed into all the mics on the kit. They also have a dark yet clean foot chick that’s great for jazz, and they have a pleasant, soft feel that made them a joy on live gigs. I had a great time exploring their nuances of texture and tone within slippery, funky grooves like the Meters’ “Cissy Strut.”

If you’re in the market for some thin, dark, and expressive cymbals with a classic old-school look, then check these out. They’re spot-on.